Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute Studies the Effects of COVID-19 on 2020 U.S. Wine Consumption
In May of this year, researchers at The Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute were awarded and used a Wine Consumer Grant to release a study examining the effect of COVID-19 on U.S. Wine Consumption. Researchers in 11 countries carried out surveys in their respective markets to provide the industry insights into the new ways consumers shop for wine, different motivations and occasions to consume wine, and new emerging trends.
“The emergence of COVID-19 caused dramatic negative impacts on businesses around the world,” said Natalia Velikova, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Hospitality and Retail Management and associate director of the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute. “It also largely changed shopping and consumption habits.”
Emerging studies of consumer behavior in the last year are painting a picture of unequal impact across markets. The wine industry, as it seems, has come out on top with one study by Nielsen finding that off-premise wine sales and online wine sales increased by 66% and 224%, respectively, compared to the same weeks in 2019. Further data by the same industry experts found that off-premises wine sales were still up by 32% in the first six weeks of lockdown.
Following this report, the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute researchers asked the question: is this growth sustainable? The team was interested in answering questions that the Nielson study did not, such as whether people had been increasing their alcohol consumption during lockdown or only stockpiling alcoholic beverages and whether the pandemic has created lasting changes in consumer shopping patterns and consumption habits.
The Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute found that a considerable motivation for increased consumption was stress relief among consumers. Another was that consumers drank more because it went well with their food. A great majority of consumers were not able to eat or drink on the premises of any establishment, so they chose to buy wine to accompany their home-cooked meals instead. According to the study, most experts agree that the trend of home cooking is here to stay, even after the pandemic passes, so the increase in off-premise purchases may be here to stay as well.
The study also revealed that younger consumers are much more open for on premise dining and wine drinking, while older consumers may be less enticed to do so, which bolsters evidence that increased off-premise purchases will hold. This will affect how wineries and wine marketers will need to approach sales and attract customers in a post-covid world.
Velikova stresses the importance that the industry understands how consumers are adapting to the new environment. As communities around the world continue to open up, the success of wineries and wine marketers will rely on their understanding of shifting behaviors, attitudes, and preferences of consumers.